How a CEO’s wife’s shopping habits became a fulfillment company

 

Submitted by Distribution M… - October 17, 2022
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By Sean Fleming, CEO of Distribution Management

A delivery here, a delivery there. It was becoming a daily routine to step over the boxes being delivered to my front porch. With an active family, a wife, 2 daughters and a few dogs, there’s always a “need” for something — new shoes for school, dance attire, a new dog bed for Daisey or some other random gadget. I’m old-school, I go to stores to shop, but my wife was learning the ways of online shopping and getting really good at it. Now remember, this was roughly 2010 — well before COVID and the explosion of ecommerce. But, all those deliveries on my door step made me think, as the CEO of a successful wholesale distributor that has been drop-shipping small packaged goods to end-users/consumers for years, there might be an opportunity here.

Existing infrastructure
We already had a national footprint of distribution centers and the general office infrastructure with accounting, credit, human resources, and finance departments. We could reach 99% of the U.S. in 1 to 2 days and had a great track record for accuracy. Our status as a high-volume shipper gave us negotiating power and better freight rates for would-be fulfillment prospects. And, we weren’t just some start-up trying to get into the fulfillment business. Our existing infrastructure had been in place and continually improving for nearly 40 years at that point. It was the perfect foundation. Strategically, this diversification was an excellent path to enter a growth market while leveraging our current assets and infrastructure — an excellent MBA-type case study.


Focus on technology

Staying current with technology has always been important at DM. It’s how we’re able to process orders same-day and manage inventory so accurately. It’s also a huge part of ecommerce fulfillment and thankfully we have some really smart people in our IT department. Our in-house team of developers and integration experts were already working with backoffice software partners to streamline our B2B order management while evolving our WMS (warehouse management system), so connecting with ecommerce platforms for B2C orders was a logical next step.

The right people
The idea to expand our business would have crashed and burned without our people. DM is full of bright, hardworking employees who were willing to take on this challenge. They have that “whatever it takes” mentality around here. It’s either that or we’re just too darn stubborn to fail. Regardless, we did it. We built a 3rd party fulfillment business that we’re proud of and improving every chance we get.

“Hire good people and treat them well…that’s got to be a cornerstone of your business.”
- Tom Fleming, DM Founder

Learn more about DM’s Culture

And, that’s how it happened. That’s how my wife, Jenn, gets credit for hatching the idea and the people of DM get credit for making the best fulfillment company I know become a reality.

Today, Distribution Management employs 450 people with revenue expected to exceed $800,000,000 in 2022. We’re headquartered in a western suburb of St. Louis, MO, and operate 5 distribution facilities across the U.S. featuring the latest in robotic technology, RF inventory tracking, 5-S Lean Workplace Methodology and incredible teams of people making it happen.